Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 23-1 (21) has reaffirmed his desire to face WBC champion Tyson Fury 30-0-1 (21).
The British pair have an in-principal agreement in place to face each other in a two-fight series next year that will crown an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
The 31-year-old Joshua was last in action in Saudi Arabia in December when he reclaimed the WBA, IBF and WBO belts with a unanimous decision win over conqueror Andy Ruiz Jr, who knocked him out in seven rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York six months earlier.
Fury is coming off a seven round beatdown of former WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in February following their controversial draw in their first fight in December 2018.
The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ was expected to face Wilder for a third time in December but that fight has now been scrapped in favour of a homecoming bout for Fury on December 5, likely against undefeated German Agit Kabayel.
Joshua, meanwhile, will need to turn back the challenge of IBF mandatory contender Kubrat ‘The Cobra’ Pulev when they meet at the O2 Arena in London on December 12.
If both popular heavyweights are successful in their upcoming fights an all-British showdown for all the marbles will be one of the biggest fights in the sport in recent years.
“It’s always been my wish,” Joshua told Sky Sports. “Not just the WBC but competing with the toughest challenges that the heavyweight division has to offer.
“That’s the only way to get better, right? You have a tough night, you go back again, you improve whether you win or lose.
“Fighting for the WBC would be an honour. It’s a prestigious belt, it’s one that I’m keen on getting my hands on. When the time is right, the opportunity will present itself.”
Despite what is on the table Joshua insists he is not overlooking Pulev, who has remained undefeated since suffering his lone professional loss by fifth-round knockout to then-unified champion Wladimir Klitschko six years ago.
Pulev may not be well known outside of hardcore boxing circles, but the 39-year-old Bulgarian is a tough competitor who is well versed in how to handle himself in the ring.
“He’s not a social media famous boxer – that’s where a lot of people get their credibility in this day and age,” Joshua said.
“In terms of what he stands for? What he represents? He has been around a long time. He knows his way around the ring. He possesses a challenge. He wants the titles and he wants to beat me.
“That’s what he possesses – hunger and motivation. I’ve got to take away that motivation and suppress that confidence. That’s how you beat somebody, by breaking their soul.”
Pulev’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank says he warned Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing not to count his chickens before they hatch.
“I’m involved with everybody, including Eddie,” he told The Gary Newbon Sports Show. “I said ‘don’t make plans so quick for a Fury-Joshua fight because I think Pulev is going to beat Joshua.’
“Let me explain my theory. Joshua got knocked out by Andy Ruiz, who is not a puncher, never been a puncher, and I know that because thirty-odd fights that Ruiz had, we promoted.
“He has quick hands, he’s not a bad heavyweight, but he’s not a puncher. He devastated Joshua and knocked him out.
“Then the second fight, what happened there? Joshua ran around the ring, Ruiz had celebrated so much and gotten so obese that he couldn’t catch him and that was the fight.
“So I think Joshua is still vulnerable and Pulev is a real tough, rugged heavyweight.”